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Back When: 1950 Gibson SD

10 Sep 2023
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Where is the steering wheel?
 
When Leslie and Wendell Cunningham take their 1950 Gibson SD tractor to shows that is often the first thing spectators ask. The SD and most of Gibson’s line of tractors use levers for steering instead of a steering wheel. The SD does not have a starter or a crank either; this tractor’s one-cylinder Wisconsin engine is started by a rope and pulley located at the front of the tractor.
 
Leslie said that he and his son Wendell collect about anything old, from cast iron skillets to antique tractors.
 
In May of 2008, Leslie had just sold an antique Ford tractor when he saw an ad in an area equipment-finder paper for an SD. It was located about a seventy-five mile drive from where he lives in Bunceton, Missouri. He and Wendell went to look at the SD and found that it was in good condition and ran well, so they decided to purchase the SD with the money made from selling the Ford. The SD was small enough to load onto their utility trailer and to be pulled home behind their pickup.
 
fter unloading the SD from the trailer and putting it to the test by driving it around the farmyard, it was time to get serious about what it would to take to get it into show condition. It was not necessary to do any work on the engine since it started and ran well. A good cleanup to the rest of the SD was first on the agenda followed by the decision to add fenders.
 
Leslie said that in 1950 the SD was available with or without fenders; but since he preferred the look with fenders, he began the hunt to locate a pair. After locating fenders, Leslie designed fender brackets and mounted them on the tractor. Since the fenders would have to be painted to match the rest of the tractor and the SD’s paint was faded badly, Leslie felt it would be best to repaint the complete tractor so that everything would match. New decals were put on after repainting, and
the SD was now ready for show. About $175 was all that Leslie spent to complete a showready restoration on his SD.
 
Both Leslie and Wendell are members of the National Gibson Tractor Club and attend the annual get-together. It is common for Gibson owners to share copies of their information with other Gibson owners when they attend the annual event. Over the years Leslie has been able to collect a great deal of literature and information on the history of the Gibson tractor line. The Gibson Company was only in business for a few years before closing. Since it did not merge with another tractor company, the Gibson tractors now meet the criteria for the category of “orphans and oddballs”- a name given to antique tractors from companies that built only a few models and/
or ceased doing business after only being in business a short time and that was not absorbed into another tractor company.

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